Sure, you can argue that the Flyers don't have the usual bite to their game because of their slow start, but this is a team that always brings their best against the Pens, especially on their turf. You could just see Claude Giroux snapping out of his goal-less slump on his first shot of the game and putting the Pens in an impossible hole. Or maybe not.
The Flyers had some downright awful moments, but they also had a few gift-wrapped opportunities that they couldn't finish. For example, near the end of the first period, Wayne Simmonds hand an open net with the puck on his stick but Craig Adams blocked the shot with his blade. Simmonds was robbed again, this time by Marc-Andre Fleury, right on the paint at the start of the third. Their biggest doozy was Brayden Schenn who had an open net two feet away, the tying goal on his stick, but he shot the puck wide as if someone put a hex on his blade.
A lot of swapped chances for both sides, but the ultimate difference maker was that the Pens were able to find the net. The first two goals for the Pens were a result of relentless attacking and swarming the net. Crosby shut the door with a pretty redirect that reminded me a lot of this incident.
The man of the hour, however, was Marc-Andre Fleury. He didn't have a good preseason and I think that put a lot of people on edge, myself included. There's absolutely no hint of that side of Fleury who stepped up big time tonight not because he was facing a team that was throwing the kitchen sink at him, but because he made the saves when the Pens needed them the most.
That's the goalie we need to see and I hope the one we've seen the last two games is the one who's here to stay.
- Another strong game from Olli Maatta. He just has these wow moments, like the pass he collected with his skate and his perfect lead pass to Malkin were just a few of the highlights. We already knew the Pens were in for a tough decision, but it's become a tease watching him, wondering if he'll become a fixture on the blue line or if we'll have to wait till next season.
- Crosby is averaging 2 points a game right now and has 14 goals and 21 assists in 22 games in Philadelphia. He's a hockey freak of nature whose job is to give the Flyers fits.
- Joe Vitale has lost his helmet in three consecutive games now. Someone please tell him to tighten his chinstrap.
- Tanner Glass had 10 hits in the game, almost a third of the Pens' total hits.
- Dustin Jeffrey was a healthy scratch and Deryk Engelland played right wing, much to the surprise of all. This move was getting a lot of media time, but it didn't live up to the hype. Engelland wasn't terrible, he set up Crosby in the crease, but Crosby couldn't pull the trigger. He also had an opportunity point blank that he couldn't finish (which makes you wonder what would've happened if another winger had been in his place). But I hope we don't have to see him in that position again.
- And then there was this: